The Wednesday Word Devotional
The Wednesday Word podcast is taking a short break for Christmas. We will return on Wednesday, January 4 with Season 5. Pastor David will host, and our guests will be staff members. We will discuss the new year and covenant renewal.
Today’s devotional is a reprint of Pastor David’s devotional from December 23, 2020.
Pastor David’s devotional for December 23, 2020
And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
The Christmas story is a familiar story. We retell the story every year, and do so through sermons, Christmas cards, nativity scenes, advent wreathes and more. As familiar as the story is, there can still be surprises—details of the story that often go unnoticed. I was thinking about one such detail this morning.
We hear in the Gospel of Luke that Mary gave birth to the baby Jesus and laid him in a manger. The manger suggests that Jesus was born outside in a cave where animals were kept. Luke tells us the reason for Jesus being born in such a humble setting: there was no room in the inn. The word “inn” in Greek can also be translated “guest room.” Guest room is more accurate to the story—in the home of Joseph’s family, guests had already occupied the guest room. So, there was no place inside the house for Mary and Joseph to sleep. Of course, this isn’t a surprise—we have talked about this detail in the story many times.
What often goes unnoticed is the prophetic nature of Jesus humble birth. He was born outside, and his first bed was a manger. Soon after, he and his family became refugees, escaping to Egypt to save the child’s life. Where did Jesus lay his head to rest? Not in his home. And, that was just the beginning. In Matthew 8:20, Jesus said “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
Throughout his ministry, Jesus traveled about, staying wherever he could. Fast forward to Holy Week, just days before his crucifixion. Jesus and his followers had arrived in Jerusalem, just 5 miles away from the place of his humble birth. They camped out for the week on the side of the Mount of Olives. On Thursday, Jesus gathered with his disciples for the Passover celebration, Jesus last supper. After the celebration, they returned to the Mount of Olives, and while the disciples, one by one, fell asleep, Jesus remained awake praying. He prayed through the night until guards arrived to arrest him. Early in the morning, he was crucified. Hanging on the cross, Jesus dying words were “it is finished.” His head sunk into his chest. Finally, a place to lay his head. His body was laid in a tomb—a sealed cave. As an infant he was wrapped in strips of cloth and laid in a manger. Thirty three years later, his body was wrapped in strips of cloth (burial cloth) and laid in a tomb. In between, he had no place of his own to call home.
The Gospel of John (1:9-14) tells of the meaning of Jesus birth in this way:
9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Two thousand years ago, the baby Jesus was born in a cave because there was no room for him in the inn. I pray that we make room for him, that we receive him. For, it is with him that we are home. Merry Christmas!